I returned home from my week in the hospital to find that Sophie was a new girl. Papi’s girl.
I was no longer allowed to put her to bed. When I got her out of bed, she wanted Papi.
She pulled on Papi’s finger to look at her toys. Papi gave her her baths.
She looked at me like I had let her down and it broke my heart.
I shed more than a few tears over this. Wondered if it was the beginning of a relationship where I was just there and only her Papi could make her blue eyes sparkle.
I imagined her all grown up, telling her friends: “Yeah, my mom and I were never that close.”
I googled phrases like: “My toddler only wants her daddy.” And “My toddler doesn’t like me.”
Crazy. I know. But we’re dealing with postpartum hormones here and I’m not gonna lie, they are real and brutal and do mean things.
One day, after blowing my nose pretending it was just the sniffles, I asked Dom if he ever felt hurt when Sophie refused to let him put her to bed. This had been a real issue for us for the first 18 months of her life.
He said it was hard at first, but he realized she was going to be attached to whoever she is around most. He said he tried not to take it personally.
I admitted to him (and to myself) that I was, indeed, taking our new standings personally and in opening up, the pain loosened its grip. I still tried to worm my way back into her routines whenever the newborn didn’t need me, but I let Sophie have her space. Have her Daddy.
I tried to remind myself that it was a good thing, this bond between father and daughter. Remind myself that toddlers are wild, untamed creatures whose moods and preferences change with the breeze.
After the hormone insanity passed, I was truly OK with Papi as center of Sophie’s universe.
After a while, though, we were back to shared custodial duties and I could barely contain my excitement when I was permitted as overseer of bath time.